Visiting Gold Country

Parent Reviews

Check out Twain Heart/gold country.  Columbia and the caves are well worth it.  Highway 88 is beautiful that time of year.  Jackson, Pioneer and the old mining towns along 88 and 49 are worth visiting.  ​Not sure how far you want to drive, but Santa Cruz, or up highway 1 to the Redwood forests is spectacular. 

​Death Valley is a must see in a lifetime.  As are many places along 395 between Lee Vining and Ridgecrest. Other places around there are Searles Valley, Joshua Tree, Red Rock Canyon, Fossil Falls, Palm Springs, (but it can be in the 100s.) 

Hope this helps.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Romantic getaway in Gold Country

Sept 2010

I'm looking for a romantic getaway - preferably with separate cottages, but not essential - between Davis and the gold country or in the gold country. Any suggestions? want to get away

For our 'pre-#2 baby getaway' we stayed at the Hanford House in Sutter Creek.

We stayed in one of their cottage suites which was very nice, private and accessible. Check out their reviews on Trip Advisor as well.

Sutter Creek is a cute little town with some great restaurants near by (Susan's Wine Bar and Taste in Plymouth). We spent a good chunk of our time wine tasting which was fun too since we had never explored that area's wine.

Enjoy! scoles

Columbia Lodging

Sept 2003

I am thinking of going up to the Columbia area next month for two nights with my six-year-old son. I'd like recommendations on places to stay that are homey but not excessively expensive. It's just the two of us, so of course rental houses are out of the question. But I don't want a cheesey motel. And I don't want this to be a camping trip. Nicest would be a little cottage with a separate entrance, but if I can't have that, any chance there's a decent place with a pool? Anywhere within say 30 minutes of Columbia State Park would do it for me. Thanks. Tx, Amy

My husband, three sons, and I have visited this area many times over the years and most recently have rented houses. But in year's past have stayed other places that might suit you. One is the Robin's Nest which is a bed and breakfast in San Andreas. We stayed there with our then 2 year old in a room that is on the lower level and has its own entrance.

Other things to do in the area that your son would probably love besides Columbia which is great fun - Jamestown for the old steam trains or Moaning Caverns which is nearby but I can't remember exactly where. Good luck! Anon.

Gold Country lodging/activities for young children

June 2003

We are looking for kid-friendly, ''non-motel''-type lodging (preferably with a pool) in the Columbia/Sonora/Jamestown area. We would prefer some type of cabin, lodge, or B&B. (Although we like the outdoors, we are not wanting to camp for this trip.) We have 4-year old and 3-month old sons and would be interested in hearing recommendations for activities (places to visit, hikes, parks, etc.) as well. Sharon

Over the memorial day weekend, we stayed in Columbia. Lots of things to see and do with kids. We tried gold panning, went on a hike and took a tour of a cavern. We camped at Marble Quarry RV Park but they also have cabins to rent with lots of family activities on site. Here is their website: You may also want to check out this website for the town of Columbia: for info about nearby activities. Donna

I don't have any good lodging suggestions in the Jamestown area that are ''non-motel''-like, but I would strongly warn you away from the Rail Fence Motel. It is the cheapest lodging by far in the area, but I spent two weekends there in the last several years, and was extremely disappointed (dirty, cramped, no telephones, extreme road noise, rude owners, need I say more...?). I did have a pleasant stay in the Sonora Gold Lodge in or just outside of Jamestown. It is basically a very nice motel, but had large clean rooms and excellent service workers. Gayle

I don't know how fun it would be for your 4-year-old, but an adult friend went gold panning in that area and said it was SO much fun. Columbia is darling. If you can, try to see a play in their old-style theater. I saw one with my dad & stepmom around Halloween one year and it was first-rate. Jennie V

7 year old wants to pan for gold

February 2002

My almost 7 year old wants to go gold mining/panning. Any recommendations of where to do it , with whom and where to stay with a three year old in tow as well? Are there other things to do around there as well? We're thinking about going in May. Thanks. Linda

A great place to pan for gold is at Columbia State Park in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Columbia was an important mining town and it has been completely preserved. You can pan for gold, visit a school house, a jail, a Wells Fargo Bank office, a candy store, a saloon, etc. You can also take a stagecoach ride. I went with my daughter's fourth grade class and the trip was really fun. The AAA guide book talks all about it. Frances

I've visited Columbia one time, however I didn't do the gold panning, but I could see people doing it. Columbia is about 3 hours from Berkeley. Here is the web site to the gold panning: I think the main web site tells about other things to do there: Click on Columbia, then click on Start Your Tour I've heard about a stagecoach ride where cowboys or bandits come and rob the tourists on the stagecoach. Might be fun for some. -Anonymous

This info is maybe 4 years old: A few years ago we went to the County Fair in Grass Valley. Not only do they have two old mines and museum in Grass Valley (Empire and North Star), but during the fair, they had an amazing gold mining demonstration from the 16 to 1 gold mine, which is one of the only operational gold mines in CA left (well- as of 4 years ago). They have these BIG guys demonstrate drilling into the rocks (they brought giant rocks), and they also had a demo of smealting gold into a bar- real gold!! This was really great, and probably a very rare site. Also, the 16 to 1 mine (I think that is there best ratio of gold to rock) ofters tours where you can actually go into the mine- for about $100 a head. I don't know about the three year old, but again, this would be a really rare experience. The fair is probably in August- call Grass Valley camber of commerce (I'm guessing). For May, there is Sutter's Fort in Sacramento. Have Fun! -Lisa

Definitely Columbia! If you go there, don't miss the stage coach ride. Columbia is both a State Park and a living town. This unique blend of government and private enterprise creates an interesting and educational experience for both visitors and residents. Come with us on a tour of this living museum. Where the Park System re-creates a gold rush town of the 1850-1870 time period and local merchants provide for your modern needs. -- Helena